By on December 20, 2018

Barely a day goes by when the TTAC chatroom doesn’t devolve into a discussion of the weird differences between the U.S. and Canada. Chris Tonn wants to take a Nissan Micra across Canada, eating various poutines along the way, while this writer drools over certain (unavailable) civil liberties offered just 45 minutes to his south. Vast gulfs in pricing and taxation usually spring up as topic fodder, too.

Given the amount of money yours truly forks over for gas, there’s additional drool reserved for U.S. pump prices. Various taxes heap, on average, an extra 38 cents on every liter of unleaded up here. That’s an extra $1.44 for each gallon, and the roads aren’t exactly paved in gold.

Now, imagine learning you’ve been paying way too much for three straight years.

The province of Quebec, aka Day Trip Town for Burlington residents, taxes gasoline and other products at a higher rate than most other provinces. You’d be a fool to fill up on the island of Montreal. In that city, where the proliferation of potholes rivals Detroit, 41 percent of the pump price is tax.

According to Canada’s Driving, citing a report in La Journal de Quebec, the province’s motorists may have been overcharged for each tank of gas purchased since 2015, and not by some minor amount. The newspaper concluded that, due to a miscalculation by the province’s pump price regulator, drivers have paid 15 to 20 cents per liter too much. That’s 57 to 76 cents per gallon. Or, up to an extra ten bucks per fill-up, assuming you’re driving a Nissan Sentra with a 13 gallon tank.

The alleged screw-up by the bureaucrats at the Régie de l’énergie concerns the oil’s origins. The agency bases its pricing on Brent crude, but, starting in 2015, Quebec refineries began purchasing Western Canadian Select crude in greater quantities. Canadian oil carries a steep discount, and right now a barrel of the stuff will run you about $28. Put another way, you could purchase two barrels of oil for one fill-up of Montreal gasoline.

While the price regulator has yet to comment on the allegations, another publication claims the difference isn’t quite so vast. Quebec City’s La Soleil claims Brent crude is only used to calculate refinery margins, and that the regulator calculates its minimum pump price on the price of gasoline leaving the refinery. The inflated pump price may amount to just a few cents a liter, the newspaper said. However, it isn’t known how by just how much the refinery margin — based on outdated pricing data — impacts the product price used by the Régie de l’énergie to figure out the after-tax pump price.

Many Canadians, most of whom make their living from other people’s taxes, would argue that these motorists are simply helping their fellow man by having their wallets violated, but heavily taxed motorists (and readers) might not hold such a virtuous viewpoint. God knows I don’t.

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46 Comments on “Report: Certain Canadians Getting Boned At the Gas Pump...”

  • avatar

    So what will Canadians do? Politely ask them to stop?

  • avatar

    Yup. That’s why I always gas up anywhere between Rochester and Niagara Falls whenever I embark on one of my Toronto escapades.

    To my Canadian friends: is the cell phone market in Canada more like the US, or the EU? I don’t want to pay Verizon $5 a day to have phone service, can I buy a local SIM and pay $10 a month whenever I ‘top off’? All I need is a not even a gig of data and some talk text minutes. Or just data which would power whatsapp.

    • 0 avatar

      Canada has some of the worst cell phone costs in the world. I’d just pay the $5 per day.

    • 0 avatar

      If you’re just in certain cities, freedom offers a plan for $15 for what you need. Less than a gig of data, but they just throttle it after you go over the limit. (Just check their limited coverage map.). Other wise public mobile has nationwide coverage for twice the price, but still peanuts in American dollars! I think both are available at most Walmarts.

  • avatar

    Perhaps a meet-and-greet with the Tesla Owners Club members at a couple of gas stations, that’ll show those darn politicians!

    • 0 avatar

      Regular gas at a buck seventy five in MO.
      Those Teslas have crushed big oil!

      • 0 avatar

        The Teslas are just a drop in the bucket so far.

        But they do represent demand destruction WRT gasoline, which should be terrifying to oil producers. Now that there’s a credible alternative, some people (who aren’t the usual geek/green crowd) will switch whenever oil prices spike. And putting a Tesla on the road means one dino-burner has been displaced for the life of that vehicle (because it will be sold used even if the first owner trades it in on a gas car).

        Demand destruction should push oil prices down over the long haul. Because there’s more oil left for all y’all who actually prefer it for whatever reason.

        But this dynamic has barely started, even if we can measure it at all. Geopolitical events matter much more at this point.

  • avatar

    What civil liberties are lacking in Canada (other than choice in heathcare)?

    • 0 avatar

      “What civil liberties are lacking in Canada (other than choice in heathcare)?”

      I interpreted Steph’s “certain (unavailable) civil liberties” remark to imply recreational use of Mary Jane, which was just legalized across the border from Ontario in Michigan, though technically unavailable because dispensaries aren’t running yet. YMMV.

      • 0 avatar

        Freedom of speech, for one. For example, a talk show host who speaks even slightly disrespectfully of women or the “developmentally disabled” will quickly find himself in some rather hot water.

    • 0 avatar

      I thought all of Canada had (or was about to) legalize marijuana. So still curious as to these other unspecified civil liberties.

    • 0 avatar

      Guns or weed right? It’s always guns or weed…

    • 0 avatar

      The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is an awfully big civil liberty. It’s surprising that so many Americans take it for granted. It’s not universal, and it’s certainly not applicable to Canada, where expression is channeled and curtailed.

      • 0 avatar

        CB, funny you should mention that because that is one of the biggest topics of conversation I’ve enjoyed with Canadian Snowbirds at such places as Picacho Peak, Quartszite, Yuma, Winterhaven, Palm Springs/Indio, etc.

        And an important thing to remember for me because we’ll be leaving for Mexico and Brazil for the Holidays, and into next year. A comment such as yours reminds me that it is important that I think before I speak, when in a foreign country, even when conversing in the English language.

        Thanks. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year to all, whatever applies.

        • 0 avatar

          “A comment such as yours reminds me that it is important that I think before I speak, when in a foreign country”

          A person should always think before they speak.

          • 0 avatar

            Even in the United States.

            Trump keeps overtly threatening the press here, despite the first amendment and trying to lock up political opponents who’ve already proven their innocence.

            That’s some banana republic b*ll$#!t, and deeply un-American. And it’s our own president, too, not Billy Joe Bob’s racist uncle from down the hollar. I’m already tired of this kind of “winning”.

          • 0 avatar

            Really Trumps the one threatening the media? Not the people getting on air saying he needs to be taken out, or the print putting out his picture with Cross hairs? Also who exactly do you think has been proven innocent?

            You act like Trump is not allowed first amendment rights when he’s using them as designed. It’s not preserved for the political lifers that you worship.

  • avatar

    That gas pump should’ve been removed years ago!

    What’s being filled up in the photo? A Dodge Nitro?

  • avatar

    And I thought we here in western NC were getting screwed on gas. Well, still think we are when I can go 40 minutes south to GSP and pay 50-60 cents less per gallon. Yes, there IS a tax difference but only half that amount.

  • avatar

    I’m an Australian that lives in Ontario and I don’t really think the US and Canada can be compared as the over-riding societal philosophy is so different.

    What I can compare ontario to is back home, and it’s here i hit some serious question marks. Taxation in both jurisdictions is very similar but overall there’s about a net 8% higher taxation rate at mid to high incomes over here (by net i mean ALL taxation).

    So, given the very similar philosophies of income re-distribution, cheaper health and education than the US etc, I mean we have a LOT in common, i cannot FATHOM where all the money goes in ontario. The lack of public works compared to back home is staggering, this country seems at a stand still compared to Australia which seems capable of funding new stadiums, massive roads, huge transit projects, public space improvements, massive public art projects etc etc etc whilst the largest state of new South Wales haze ZERO debt and Ontario is well over 300 BILLION dollars in the red.

    The money here is being massively mismanaged somewhere because i am just not seeing the fruits of such high taxation.

    • 0 avatar
      Add Lightness

      Few things are more effective than Big Oil’s lobbyists. If Alberta and Canada were fortunate enough to have done what Norway did about half a century ago, Universities would be free, there would be great public works, no boil water advisories etc. and a TRILLION dollar sovereign wealth fund.
      All there is to show for all the xtracted resources now are real nice pickup trucks, motorhomes, snowmobiles, ATVs and boats.
      It all is getting pissed away before our eyes.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m an Ontarian who lives in Ontario, and I can tell you that my “societal philosophy” is identical to that of my neighbours to the south. How could it be otherwise? We share the same culture and language. The only differences are those imposed upon us by government, and those invented in the minds of wishful thinkers.

    • 0 avatar

      I would not be too concerned about Canadian taxes when compared to the USA. There isn’t that big of a difference for the middle class but what shifts things in favour of Canadian’s higher tax rates is health care. One can argue that the USA system offers better care but that is ONLY if you can afford it or can afford the insurance costs. Our universities and colleges are also cheaper.

  • avatar

    Better be careful – saying anything against the government is considered racist, hate speech in Canada and is punishable by fine or jail.

  • avatar

    “saying anything against the government is considered racist, hate speech in Canada”.

    No argument here.

    • 0 avatar

      Big argument from me. What delusions do you suffer from?

      Well here, I’ll speak out against the dumb bunny Ontarians recently elected as premier, Doug Fraud, a man now with a 63% disapproval rating once they found out what an idiot he is. An anti-union right wing drone of limited intellectual wit except how to thickly butter his own and his pals bread, and crap over everyone else, especially anyone he thinks belittled his dumb ass in the past. Was going to put a pal in charge of the provincial police by rewriting the requirements. Lower, of course, wouldn’t want to stretch the man’s limited capability. But Fraud got caught at that, along with his secret special camper van he wanted “kept off the books”.

      Now, let’s see if that ape can come down here to NS and get me for criticizing his old white fraudulent ass. He’d just meet an even older white ass who’s not intimidated by his bluster and horse manure. It won’t happen anyway. Get a grip, we have as free speech in reality as the Americans do. And their concept of Canada (which is a lot more than the mere grunters in Ontario – they amount to only 40% of the population) is about as uninformed as it gets. Opinion isn’t fact, but that never stops Americans opining after a weekend in Tronnah, thus becoming experts. About mirrors Ontario’s knowledge of the country beyond its sceptered borders. Zilch.

      Dope? You can walk into the government store and buy it here. The only problem is limited supply due to more demand than expected. So thank goodness Ontarians aren’t driving around cross-eyed, thus leaving the limited supply to the rest of us.

      Just because Ontario can’t organize its way out of a wet paper bag and rig up government dope outlets, or even beer in grocery stores, doesn’t mean the rest of the country is as screwed up. They got on with the job. But Ontario and specifically the Toronto region thinks it IS Canada and assumes what it’s like there, must be the same everywhere else. Wrong. They had a bunch of Liberal technocrats running the place into the ground for years, bought the Fraud and found out he was just as bad if not worse, but in different ways. Current pols are crap, no matter what party.

      I don’r run down my country just because of the idiotic politicians we have of all stripes. So why other Canadians would is beyond my understanding. Get a grip.

      • 0 avatar

        If you read the law, then you would realize that Canadians do NOT “have as free speech in reality as the Americans do.”

        Canada is governed by socialists, so you’re free to laud them and criticize classical liberals such as Doug Ford. If you try doing the reverse — perhaps suggesting that Ford needn’t be an intellectual to deconstruct sclerotic stat organs such as the pitiful school system — will cause you to risk your livelihood.

        Every Canadian knows that when politicians talk about “services,” they mean well-paying, secure jobs — jobs that require little work and can support an extended family of hangers on. So people don’t really care that health care is so poor, or that roads are being built in the Atlantic where they aren’t needed. They only care about getting a piece of the action. Openly discussing this system of sinecure risks extreme sanction.

        • 0 avatar


          Unless, are you suggesting that there’s a coverup, and the jails are full of the legions of people who absolutely, vocally despise Trudeau.

          • 0 avatar

            I said you’re risking your livelihood by speaking up, not your life.

          • 0 avatar

            I come back to [CITATION NEEDED]. There’s a whole lot of people that have no qualms with expressing their dissatisfaction with either side.

          • 0 avatar

            I must provide a citation in order to have an opinion on The Truth About Canada (TTAC)? Who made this rule? And what happens if I don’t follow it? Will I be silenced in some way, or simply shunned in the grand ‘ole North American puritan tradition?

            I’d suggest that examples are easy to find. Look at our school system. Almost everyone in English Canada studies French intensively, yet almost no one learns the language. Plenty of people critique this outcome, but teachers and administrators remain strangely silent. You’d think they’d want to improve the situation (it couldn’t be worse) or perhaps apologize and return their salaries to the taxpayers. This doesn’t happen. Crickets chirp, as these people understand that the system exists to advance their interests, not to educate young people. I don’t blame the teachers. Admitting the truth is a one-way ticket to oblivion at any point before retirement.

          • 0 avatar

            There’s approximately d!ck all I can or will do, it’s a pithy way to point out you’re being hysterical and presenting “your opinion” as fact.

            As far as your example, I can’t speak for you, but I learned French about as well as anything else, which is to say I was conversational while still in school, and then never used it and now can sort of piece together basic requests, because I never have reason or opportunity to use it unless I’m dealing with the Quebecois. And while I don’t think it’d be taboo to say we could do a better job of teaching anything at all, is there any large organization with waste where the recipients of said waste would speak out as to how pointless they are? Considering there’s books and thinkpieces on bullsh!t work, I don’t think you can pin that one on lack of freedom of speech.

  • avatar

    “this writer drools over certain (unavailable) civil liberties offered just 45 minutes to his south” Really? What exactly is this supposed to mean?

    Similarly “most (Canadians) make their living from other people’s taxes”. What data (I assume none) supports this assertion?

    Meanwhile., on our recent trip to Virginia, I paid $3.01 per gallon in Frederick MD for 93-octane. A couple of days later, I passed a station in DC that had a posted price of $4.48. Quite a spread!

    • 0 avatar

      “most (Canadians) make their living from other people’s taxes”

      @ect – I was wondering where the author pulled that gem from?

      “this writer drools over certain (unavailable) civil liberties offered just 45 minutes to his south”

      What is that specifically? Access to assault rifles and higher odds of getting shot?

  • avatar

    So how many of you leave the gas cap dangling from its tether? I don’t.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I have little sympathy for voters who demand “free” health care and other social programs, and then complain about the high taxes resulting from such programs.

  • avatar

    Western Canadian Select is a heavy sour crude produced mainly by the oil sands in Alberta. Heavy and sour means it requires more refining to make into gas, and contains lots of sulphur that has to be removed. The price is what you’d pay for it in Hardisty Alberta.

    Brent crude is light and sweet, and the price location is the North Sea.

    Such prices vary a lot, and also shift relative to reach other. How a government determines pricing based on such things seems rather arbitrary to begin with.

    Further clouding the matter is that Quebec refineries buy crudes other than Brent and WCS.

    Golbal crude trading markets should ensure that the benchmark crudes are fairly priced against each other in any given location.

    • 0 avatar

      “Golbal crude trading markets should ensure that the benchmark crudes are fairly priced against each other in any given location.”

      That’s really hard to do when the State is the second or third largest oil producer in the US, pretty much self-sufficient in oil and refining, and exports the majority of the oil it produces.

      How are you going to keep locally produced oil against any benchmark when supply is growing faster than storage can be emptied?

  • avatar

    On the plus side Canadians can buy high-octane gasoline, the good stuff as in Europe, not adulterated with ethanol.

  • avatar

    $1.40 a litre here on Vancouver Island equals US $4 a US Gallon.

    We have 3 levels of government helping themselves to gas taxes here.

    Do we win “highest gas prices in North America” crown?

  • avatar

    Just imagine if you had underpaid YOUR taxes by that much for that long.

    “Oh, no problem, eh?”


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